Supreme Court: City must pay gay center almost NIS 500,000

Jerusalem’s gay, lesbian and bisexual community wins huge victory after municipality refuses to subsidize key events.

Gay Parade 311 (photo credit: Sarah Levin)
Gay Parade 311
(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
Jerusalem’s gay, lesbian and bisexual community won a huge victory on Tuesday when the Supreme Court found that the municipality must pay NIS 465,000 to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a non-profit community center for the city’s gay population.
The money represents a retroactive payment for cultural events that the Open House organized between 2005 and 2008, including the annual gay pride parade, which the municipality originally refused to subsidize.
RELATED:Gay Pride Parade held in JerusalemJerusalem Gay Pride Parade to march on the Knesset
According to the verdict, the Open House requested funding from the municipality for events but was repeatedly turned down, despite the fact that the municipality funded similar parades and youth activities for other organizations.
Despite the municipality’s insistence that they do not discriminate against any community, the court found that the denial of funds was “suspicious,” Judge Yitzhak Amit wrote in the verdict.
Two years ago, the District Court ruled that the Open House did not meet the municipality’s criteria for organizations that receive financial support from the municipality.
That decision was overturned on Tuesday.
“We never got a single shekel from the municipality,” said Guy Solomon, an administrator at the Open House. “They always found a way to withhold it.”
The court found that since the gay community is estimated to account for approximately 10 percent of the population, the city has a responsibility to support organizations that cater to their needs.
“[The Open House] works to make the gay community an integral part of the urban fabric of Jerusalem, and offers members of the gay community in Jerusalem many activities throughout the year that have no parallel elsewhere in the city,” Amit wrote.
“The meaning of this verdict is that the Open House is essential,” said Solomon. “It shows that the public can relate to it, that we’re not being ignored any more. It shows that things are starting to change. It shows that we as a community also have rights, that we as a community are doing something.”
Solomon said most of the money will be directed towards the organization’s Open Clinic, which provides free medical care and HIV tests to the community. Some of the money will also support the center’s programs for youth and a new campaign aimed at changing public perception of homosexuals as well.
The Open House filed their appeal with the Supreme Court in March, 2009. They were represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, the activist arm of the Reform Movement.
The municipality did not respond to requests for comment.